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Family tribute to murder victim

The family and former pupils of a retired schoolteacher found stabbed to death at her riverside cottage have paid tribute to her memory as detectives continue to hunt for her killer.

In a statement issued by West Mercia Police, the son and daughter of Betty Yates spoke of their shock and sadness at the 77-year-old's murder and described her as "vivacious, independent and popular".

Mrs Yates, a widow who lived alone, was found dead on Wednesday at her home on a track beside the River Severn near Bewdley, Worcestershire, after a friend became concerned for her welfare.

Appealing for local people to assist the murder hunt, her son, David, and daughter, Hazel, said: "We do not understand why or how anybody could have done this and we would urge anyone who has any idea about who is responsible or has any information at all to come forward and tell the police.

"Our mother was a vivacious, independent and popular person. She had a lovely character and was extremely caring. She was also very fit and active for her age.

"Naturally we are extremely shocked and saddened at the manner of her death and at this time we do not know whether we will ever come to terms with that. Thankfully we were able to spend some quality time together when we all got together over Christmas and those are now our final, treasured memories.

"We will always remember her with love and affection - as well as being our mother she was a true lady."

Mrs Yates, a keen swimmer who was a member of local walking and book clubs, taught in the Wyre Forest area before her retirement and had lived at the cottage for more than 30 years.

In tributes posted on a Facebook group entitled "RIP Betty Yates, the best teacher there was", generations of ex-pupils remembered her with fondness. Chris Wilkes wrote on the site: "I'm 43 now. Mrs Yates was one of my first teachers. I have travelled the world and seen many amazing things and I still remember her vividly."

Meanwhile, forensic teams are still conducting inquiries at the cottage, named Riverscroft, which lies at the end of track running along the western bank of the Severn.

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